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View Living to live on DondeNathan's travel map.

Thought I would post this again as it's hidden only on the first page:

I am looking forward to your comments on this blog and/or emails (dondenathan@gmail.com). Email me for my contact # if you want to text and call me. If you are inspired or just want to have some fun, please join me or if you just want to contribute, you can make donations and prolong this fun through Paypal (instruction below) paypal account. This journey is not about money but if you feel moved, feel free to donate. Feel free to comment if you have any creative ways that you can contribute to this trip with your ideas, tips, etc.

I do want to meet and talk to those of you who have followed me that I don't know so don't be shy!!


Posted by DondeNathan 12:42 Archived in Panama Comments (2)

The Journey Continues With A New Goal and New Destinations

A tourtured soul, the man who knew it all but knew nothing, a new purpose

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After my last posting and some very important phone calls to inform the people in my life that I had found what I was looking for, I headed into town to get some money. (Oh i'm back in David at the Bambu house). As I walked down the road, I felt different. My stride, my attitude, and the way I carried myself felt much more natural. No longer did I feel the need to exude confidence, or walk faster than others, or look people straight in the eye, I was felt comfortable in my own skin.

When I came back, I sat by the pool to think through the events of the day but I didn't have to think much. The calmness continuously reassured me that I was doing the right thing and that, while I may have not reached the end, I had completed this leg of my journey. The hostel owner came by and said that he had heard some of my conversations and asked if I was ok. I told him a bit about what I was going through and what I came here for and he said something to the effect of 'People come here to find themselves, but they really need to just remember themselves.' Very true as I know knew.

I felt compelled to sit by the lady who was in the bambu hut behind me, so I did. As I sat down, she overheard my conversation and asked me what I found. I explained to her what I told you all in my posting but it didn't register to her as much, as I would find out later. She told me that she was also here to find happiness and how she couldn't be around her family at home due to some issues. She quickly moved on to pepper me with questions about my previous work experience and she shared that she was a business owner with a lot going on. We chatted for a bit on various topics, mostly related to her work and I found myself just needing to listen.

She was a bit annoyed that she couldn't find the correct ingredients to make homestyle chicken tacos and headed off to the stores in town to search more. Later, back at the computer, a man came to check in and he was a ball of fire. He reminded me of a cartoon character that I had seen before as he had some dark rimmed sunglasses, a deep southern drawl and an all white outfit. He had been here before so they knew him and greeted him. When they spoke to him, he was having three different conversations at the same time and never seemed to stop talking. I immediately thought of this ad, watch it and you will understand. I thought that this guy might have some for me to learn as he seemed to have a wealth of knowledge.

I spent the rest of the day processing what I had been through and trying to make sure I was doing the right thing, the calmness again reassured. The lady I met earlier, I will call her A Dear Friend, showed back up after two attempts with the ingredients for her meal. Later a car pulled up and out came, Bejou, the LA guy I opened up to in the jungle. I didn't think i'd run into him again but I was happy to see him. He and I used to be very much the same. He is a good looking guy, who exudes confidence and has something deeper inside to offer that attracts people to him. When I was explaining to him that I would be completely changed after this trip, he didn't understand and told me that I would always be the same; wise words as I found out. His words were correct, as we all know, as I realized that I would just be who I really was. I chatted with him for a second and told him about my epiphany and that it was time for me to go home. He was a bit taken aback but I think he understood. The next moment, he jumped back into the SUV and went on to find his next conquest.

My thoughts now moved to my hunger, as I hadn't eaten much that day, and how much I was looking forward to another filete!!! My dear friend came to offer me some tacos when she was done but I politely declined as my mind was made up. She left the door open to double dip on dinner, which sounded great to me. I strolled back to the restaurant and found a seat, this time feeling more comfortable that I did a few weeks ago when I was a bit freaked out by the ants and the redicuous heat. The filete was as good as ever and meet all my expectations. A little while later, back at Bambu, My Dear Friend brought out an amazing spread of chicken, cilantro, onion, limes, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and tortillas. I can't even explain how amazing it was for her to find the ingredients and put together a meal that I sometime dream of here. I could tell that she was somebody who had a very nurturing heart and had so much to offer, but maybe didn't know exactly how to do it in her family life. I wasn't hungry but couldn't resist and was not disappointed.

Although I was good with my decision to start heading home, I wanted to wait until I woke up to make sure I was resolved. My night sleeping out back in the Jungle House was good until the roosters decided they didn't want to wait until sun-up to start their heckles but I managed to get a decent nights sleep regardless. When I woke up, I was reassured that I had made the right choice. I spent some time on the phone and, thanks to Mrs Montgomery at continental who waived the 150 change fee, I now had my date and destination! August 31 from Panama City to Atlanta, Georgia to spend some time with my cousin who has a bun in the oven. So excited!

I spent a lot of time the rest of the day, listening on as I swung on the hammock. I listened and talked more to My Dear Friend as she shard more stories about the crazy adventures she has had, she is a commercial tour operator among other things, and also to her and Fred, the man who knows it all, talking about astrology. Fred was a psychologist that had and anicdote or answer to everything. As he told My Friend about her astrology, he agreed with everything she said and explained away, whith certainty not logic, everything she disagreed with. I was amazed at his mind and awed that he seemed to be so unreceptive of the world, a smaller degree of how I was before. A wise lady told me the other day that those who consider themselves smart or intelligent, are rarely emotionally intelligent. I felt the urge to opine but knew it was just my time to listen and learn.

I invited My Dear Friend to join me for dinner and we headed over. At dinner she shared something very personal to me that completely explained the pain that I saw in her. She is an amazing lady who has done so many remarkable things in her life and was so successful in what she does, while at the same time, she carries a lot of pain due to what she has gone through in life while at the same time, has a remarkably free spirit that is able to shine through. I realized that I was heading down the same path before this trip.

I was doubting my spanish skills, as I haven't had much practice, until I spent a couple hours last night tranlating both ways between My Dear Friend, who knew zero spanish, and an amazing Columbian Senora who has shunned the english language to hold on to her culture and values. Even know, I don't know how I was able to relay the messages as they talked mainly about anthropology and the histories of indigineous cultures like the Incas and others.

I'm planning on heading out today to santa catalina, a beach town on the pacific and make the most out of my last weeks here in panama. After my last post, I thought that was the end but I realized that my journey continues but with a new direction. I have made reservations with my both of my brothers and will have many more moments and experiences along the way to share. I still haven't thought about the comforts of home, only the comforts of the people I love.

Thanks for everything and I will continue to need your support, comments, and emails as I keep pushing and finding more about this guy inside.

Posted by DondeNathan 06:00 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

I Leave With Peace

Life, Love, and future

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I write as a changed man.

I woke up today and realized that I found what I was looking for.

One thing that Fun Bobby showed me is that, even though I came and will leave a changed person, it is ok to be who you are. I came here to find myself and to change but the whole time, all I needed was to be secure with who I am.

Yesterday, as I was packing Kate came in to chat, something she hadn't done during our time together. About a week ago, in a minute of sheer honesty, I looked at her and thought to myself that if I could wake up to her everyday, I would be a happy man. I knew that I had to tell her and thought for days the right words and time but I didn't have to, the chance came to me. I told her how I felt about her, in words that were nothing as I planned. I explained that the passing compliments and promises of life long massages and chocolate were from my heart. I talked about how I've worked hard to make the girls in my life work for my affection and now I was willing to put it on the line to tell her my feelings. The weird thing is that I wasn't expecting, and really didn't give her the opportunity to respond because it didn't matter. I knew that this was not the time for us and that I was on a journey that I needed to accomplish and maybe we would have our chance another day. I opened up a little more about my journey and we had a couple moments of silence in between, not awkward, just pure moments. And then I felt like the chat was over. We hugged and I thanked her and I walked out. It was so relieving to just put myself out there and tell my feelings, face to face. I don't know if it was love but I know that the feelings that I felt and the words that I said, were from the heart. I may or may not ever talk to or see her again but I am so appreciative for the time we had together...and the words that went unspoken.

Before my posting yesterday, I made some phone calls to people in my life. I can't remember exactly what was said and didn't spend a lot of time reflecting but the words were real and my soul heard the message.

My going away dinner was low-key, as I wanted. When I woke up this morning, as I packed, i wrote a goodbye note to a dear friend and was resolved to leave without saying all the goodbyes. I woke up to Kate and told her that everyday waking up to her was a good day and she went off on a hike. I wanted to say good bye without saying good bye and the words came to me "I leave with peace, not in vain" I wrote "I leave with peace" at the top of a paper I found and the address to this blog and put it up on the wall of tick sheets. As I shared some huggs with people who touched me, I walked out as I came in, Just a Man and His backpack. As I walked, I felt a calmness that I had truely found my peace. I could press on and see the sights and meet the people, but that's not what I came here for. I walked down the hill and left behind the sadness, the person who i carried that wasn't me and the things that I didn't need. I stood on the road, in the middle of the jungle and looked around and thought 'there is much more for me but i found what I was looking for and I leave with peace'.

My journey now takes me to spend time with my brothers, nieces, nephews and maybe some of you who have carried me through this journey. Don't be sad, as this is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life and I will forever be the person who I really am.


Posted by DondeNathan 10:22 Archived in Panama Tagged peace Comments (5)

No One Can Ever Take Away The Dances You Danced...

Goodbye(s) To Fun Bobby, A Glowing Spirit, English Lesson, Back On Track

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Happy to say that I´m back on track. After my last post, I did some more thinking (with the heart) about what was going on and realized that the answer was in the Acorn. Although I guarantee that I will have more moments like I was having, I need to just believe in what i´m doing here and keep plugging on. I gave up everything that made me comfortable for a reason and I need to second guess myself when I feel like I need those comforts again. Although the time will come, other that the people in my life, I don´t miss or think of home life...and that is a great feeling.

Need to back track a second to tell you about a few things that happened on my hike of reflection after the moment on the treasure hunt and the bad dream. So Rob, Kate, Hester (english girls), and Oliver (the Golden Boy) walked for an hour and a half or so and ended up on a partially dried out river bed, next to a river. Kate and Oliver went for a dip and I found a spot on a rock a little ways away from Rob and Kate. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do about going home and had the urge to run. I hesitated for a second and just got up and ran down the dried up river bed. As I ran, I started to cry tears of sadness but they soon dried up...like the bed I was running on. At first there was sand, then more corse sand, then rocks but my speed didn´t change as I felt confident that I wouldn´t slip or fall...which now that I think back on it was very symbolic about what I needed to do about my situation...go forward with confidence that I am doing the right thing here!!

I then went back and assured everyone that my run wasn´t because I needed to go to the bathroom lol! Kate was sitting in the sand and Rob had to tinke and I opened up to Kate about what was on my mind and a little of why I was here. I might have wrote this before but on this trip, I haven´t really went out of my way to talk to the people around me about my journey. Not because I don´t want them to know, but more so that they are now a part of it and they only thing that is important who I am in front of them at the minute. It was good to talk to her about it because she is someone who I have grown to like since I´ve been here and I want her to know more about me. More about her another time...

So lately i´ve found myself a little exhausted, partially due to long nights at the bar (working of course haha) and because it´s now my job to meet everyone and have the same ol conversation. I took a nap and was greeted by another large wave of people to meet, and I declined. I was sitting at the table and had a brief encounter with a girl from New York but I didn´t chat her up past that but I did feel good around her.

Rob was planning on leaving Sunday so I cooked up a suprise peach cobbler to acompany our going away dinner later that night. I was hanging on the hammock when she came back over, didn´t even have her name yet. She asked me the ol ´how long you travelling for´ question and I told her a little about my journey. She asked me how my family felt about it and I felt compelled to go a little deep and share the driving factor of my trip (what I told the guys back in the jungle) and was able to finish my sentence without a tear, although they were close. She told me that she was only on a ten-day trip because she had to work but loved travelling and would like to do a big trip but knew she probably wouldn´t until something big happened in her life. We chatted for a bit after that but her food was ready and the conversation ended. After that, I found myself on some of my favorite thinking spots, feeling her glances at me and feeling like we needed to talk further but I didn´t want to force it.

As the night went on, she was supposed to catch a bus to David then Panama City to leave back to New Jersey the next morning. It was obvious to everyone that she needed and wanted to stay but she was obligated to leave. I went in and tried to lay down for a bit, feeling a little uneasy if she left before I woke up. The nap didn´t come and I made my way back out to the main area. A little later she finally came up and started her goodbyes. She walked around and got some email addresses and came over to say bye. I asked to write in her book and gave her my blog address. As she was leaving, I felt compelled to walk with her, even though I had no intention of walking down and up that hill again. Our very small talk quickly turned to talking about my journey a little more and Nicole (her name as I found out) shared with me that, for various reasons, her family was not supportive of her travels and her mom threatened to disown her when she wanted to move out of the US. I also opened up a bit more about my journey and how the processes and conversations I had before I left. Also sharing how I was able to have a life changing conversation with my mom that not only gave me peace to be able to do this, but that it helped her as well. Before I knew it, we were at the bottom of the hill as it started to rain a bit. I felt like staying, so I did. She shared a quote with me that she say at a hostel somewhere: No one can ever take a way the dances you danced, the food you ate, or the travels you traveled. Because of her I amended it as I give to you to add ´...and the people you meet´She pulled out her video and as she started it and began to narrate, the bus came. We hugged and she got on the bus. She is someone that I knew for only a very short time but I will remember her forever as someone with a glowing spirit and someone who will one day be able to take the leap to findout who she really is...and i hope that I was able to contribute as she contributed so much to my journey.

The ladies and oliver cooked up a proper Irish stew with dumplings and we all ate in the bar as the food wasn´t ready until late. The meal was awesome and it felt good to be eating with my new temporary family. We decided to wait to eat the cake later but me and Fun Bobby had another plan. When the time felt right, we gathered everyone around and told them it was time so me and Bobby grabbed a handful and started a cake fight!! It didn´t last long and most don´t call it a cake fight, as me and Bobby were the only ones who threw the cake.

I´m getting kicked off as I´ve been on the computer too long but I still need to finish another time. Rob ended up staying another day as he was in no shape to leave but we said goodbye today and will meet again.

Posted by DondeNathan 11:37 Archived in Panama Comments (3)

The Acorn

Understanding, exit plan, and crossroads

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I have so much to write and tell but little time so i´ll try to hit the big points.

After my last internet session/posting/calls home, I was a little distraught about some news I got from home. I spent the day trying to figure it out and decide what, if any, actions I needed to take. Fortunately there was an acorn that helped me through it.

For the last week or so, I was awaken, suprised, or stirred by the sound of what sounded like rocks hitting our tin roof. I asked almost everyone at the hostel what it was an no one could give me the answer. It wasn´t easy to figure out what it was because it hit at random times and I couldn´t figure out what it was. I had a hunch and convinced myself, after a walk from the showers that it was probably acorns falling from the trees and I was satisfied with that.

Later in the day, I was chillin in one of the hammocks and heard that familiar sound, seconds later, I felt a tap on my back. I looked back and saw a small acorn...the one that fell on the roof!! I picked it up and stared at it for a couple minutes and realized that unlike I have thought and trained myself throughout my life, that it is not important to analyze and understand everything in life, sometimes you just need to sit back and let things be as they are. I decided that even though I feel obligated and compelled to intervene in the situation, I need to let things go as they are. I have that acorn with me now and will keep it to remind me of the lesson I learned.

I posted some pics, one of them of my Brother from another Mother, Rob. He´s an irish guy who decided to volunteer when the English girls did and works the bar with me. At first I was annoyed because he was following them around...and maybe taking my shine a little. He almost decided to leave the other day but changed his mind. I finally realized that he was acting like that because he´s been travelling for 5 months and was feeling a little lonely. He, like me, quit his job to travel and missed his home flight 2 months ago to keep it going. We´ve been hanging out working the bar and I realized that he is an awesome guy. We put DJ off my archos and he comes up with some awesome songs and knows my music better than I, even though it is not popular in Ireland so he has to seek out the good stuff. Other than that, he´s just a cool guy and I have a lot of respect for his travels and what he is doing. When you check out the picture I posted, you will understand...oh and in the one we are in together, I am wearing his shirt! Sorry Rob!

Wednesday at the bar, I toldCollin (a new volunteer from Portland) at the bar that I would do the treasure hunt with him the next day. I wasn´t feeling great when I woke up (that was the night Rob took his shirt off) but put my stuff on and headed out. On the way Bejou, a cool cat from LA, decided to come along for a bit as he hadn´t done anything in his 3 days at the hostel. Along the way we talked about his fling went wrong and i offered some advice. When we reached the first treasure hunt clue, at the Bearded Tree (or something), somehow the conversation led to me and I felt compelled to share some info about myself, specifically the major event that led me here. Not ready to put that out here yet for you, but it was something that I haven´t shared with anyone so far on this trip and it just came out. Before I finished my sentence, I started to cry and felt the emotion that had been waiting to come out, was released. Not a shining moment for a guy in front of some other guys who i have only known for a couple days but it happened and I wasn´t ashamed of it. It made me wonder if I am here to figure myself out and ´find myself´or if I am just running from my problems. I followed that up with a horrible dream last night.

We got up today and they pulled me on a hike and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do. Should I go home and deal with it, should I go on to columbia and see what is there for me, maybe nicarauga, am I here for the right reason?? Don´t worry, I am still in the moment and not giving up but I need to deal with this inside.

Leaving the hostel on Tuesday headed to Panama City, where I plan to decide what is next. I want to go to San Blas, which is on the way to Columbia so I´ll decide if I just want to spend a couple days there or move on to Columbia.

Don´t fret my friends, for this is what I am here for an regardless of what is next for me, I have accomplished my original mission each and every day and am still having the time of my life, creating memories that will change me forever. Peace Be With you!

Posted by DondeNathan 14:58 Archived in Panama Tagged rob acorn crossroads craziness Comments (2)

My Life At Lost and Found

Getting in the groove but staying in the moment

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Life at the lost and found is going good so far. I wasn't really expecting to have to be somewhere for this long and it's been quite of an adjustment. The normal life of a backpacker is staying somewhere for a couple days then moving on when it's time but now, i'll be here at least for a week so I have to get into a routine...without getting too much into a routine. Although i've suceeded so far, it's hard to stay in the moment when you know where you will wake up the next day and week, and you are around a lot of the same people. Being in the jungle is helping a lot as everything around you is alive and changes constantly. Also, there are new guests leaving and arriving everyday so the environment and atmosphere changes.

I find myself spending a lot of time on the perch overlooking the mountains a lot. It is awesome to see the different colors and clouds that roll over the mountains. Sometimes the mountains roll right into the lodge and you know that you are just surrounded by the clouds! Just like working at home, it is easy to get into a rut and not appreciate where you are and what you are doing. I would say 'working' and living in the jungle is something that I vow never to get tired of. I normally require some time to wake up in the morning but now when I open the door of the staff dorms, I am greeted instantly by the guests having breakfast or hanging out. It is great to grind my fresh, Don Cuni coffee and start my morning off with a great cup of Joe talking to the other staff, guests or just staring at the mountains.

Another challenge i'm tackling is not trying to be territorial or become a 'staff member.' When I usually start a job, you get indoctrinated and become a part of the 'family' and the guests, or customers, are now the 'other side.' I have succeeded so far in trying to make the guest feel like family and consider myself a guest. Kate, Hester, and Rob are the people who I started with and we hang out a lot but I make an effort to break away from them to spend alone time or make new friends with guests or other volunteers. It's kind of slow now but i'm sure we'll get some more guests today or tomorrow and a new journey will start!

Yesterday, I got to show the new guests Rocky for the first time. That entails, being the first one in the cage, finding him and grabbing his tail so others can come in and he doesn't escape. It was only my second time in with him but I felt a lot more comfortable this time.. plus i couldn't freak out while everyone else was in. I would equate his personality to that of a puppy. He will climb on your head and nibble on your nose. He's pretty cool and I look forward to becoming friends with him. Here is a wiki page and some pics of them

It's quite an ordeal to even get to the internet to write to you. I have to hike about 10 minutes down the hill and wait on the side of the road for the next collectivo, bus, to pick me up. I then take a 30 minute bus ride for $2 into Gualaca, the nearest town. The internet cafe we use is actually for the school kids so they are all around me now, playing games, and checking their facebook.

Yesterday was a good day for me as I made my first substantial meal. I spent about 2 or 3 hours cooking up a sort of casserole with beans, rice, chicken and fresh veggies. The English girls were eyeing my food so I offered to share with them, as long as they cooked for the next two nights! Just like me, I know :) I have been having eggs for breakfast the last couple days with some mystery meat I found in the market the other day. The eggs here are not refrigerated but I haven't had any problems yet so we'll see. I haven't had milk in over a month but am planning on picking up a carton and getting some cereal when i leave. I was going to get some the last time I was in town but balked at the cereal selection. They have some fruit loops and other good kinds at the lodge so i'm really looking forward to having cereal tomorrow!

I'm considering changing courses and heading up north through Nicarauga, Guatemala, Honduras, etc but i have some time to figure that out. My commitment at Lost and Found is open ended so I can stay as long as I like, who knows.

I tooks some pics for you to show you my new temporary life. I posted them and hope you like!

We're almost at 3,000 hits so thanks so much for the support and coming on this journey. Until the next time my friends!

Posted by DondeNathan 11:20 Archived in Panama Tagged the at new friends life lodge adjusting direction? Comments (2)

Will Work for A Free Bed

El Loco Don Cuni, finding myself working in the jungle

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Last couple days have been pretty crazy!

Before I left Boca Brava, I had to re-enter the real world for a couple minutes and pay some bills. I realized that I wasn´t going to have much cash when I got into South America if I didn´t go soon or find a way to save some money, so was thinking about that a bit.

Decided to stock up on some more groceries and get some laundry done in David before heading to the Lost and Found Lodge so I headed over to my laundry and lunch spot. Was a little disconcerted when one of the ladies said they were spraying around the church down the street for Dengue! Apparently there was a bit of an outbreak up the carribean coast. The taste of that spray with my lunch wasn´t pleasant but better than getting Dengue.

Grabbed a bus to the lodge and was dropped off on the side of a road with a small fruit stand and a sign. The only way to get to the lodge, is a 15 minute hike up the mountain. My Baru hiking mentality kicked in but it was a little more challenging as I was now carrying my backpacks, about 35 lbs. Finally made it up and was greeted by Piera, a very chill North Carolinan, who offered me some water and showed me around. The lodge is litterally in the middle of the jungle but they have a pretty nice layout, with some gardens, their own little coffee plantation, a bar, hiking trails, etc. They sell food, snacks, veggies and fruit and everything is on the honor system, you have a sheet and tick things off as you take them. They didn´t have room for me so they set me up in the volunteer dorm (a sign?) and I found a seat with some swiss guys.

Woke up the next day to go to an organic coffee farm. We met Don Cuni, who was an amazing man. He has had his farm for over 30 years and started out using chemicals and pesticides to focus on making money. About 10years ago, a german company came in to try to teach him and the local farmers some other ways of farming and controlling the insects...as long as he bought their chemicals. He learned from then but could no longer affor their chemicals so he used some of their science and his own knowledge to develop un-heard of methods for true organic farming. Everyone in the town called him ´el Loco´as he was chosing to give up larger yeilds and profits to be organic. After a while he embraced the term and decided to start calling himself and his farm loco and equate loco with organic. I can´t even start to explain some of the things he is doing to maintain this organic lifestyle and farm, with no regard for how it will profit him later. There are also a lot of politics behind it as he only has squatter rights on his farm and Panama says he will never have the opportunity to truely own his land. He has no sons and hopes that his only grandson will want to maintain the farm or he will lose it.

We toured the farm and he showed us all of the various plants, fruits and crops he had and how he developed ways to work with nature to maintain everything. He even developed some of his own bushes and plants by putting them together to control insects and prevent erosion. He actually scored 51 out of 80 in an international coffee certification, which is remarkable with the methods he uses. The coffee we drink in the US, on the high end only scores 40 and under. One day he hopes to have one of the best coffees in the world. Sadly, he does not have enough yeilds to make a major profit so he relies on the tours and coffee sales by The Lost and Found lodge for his lively hood. He also has organic wine that he tought himself to make. We saw the entire coffee making operation from beginning to end and I bought a pack of his coffee for $3! One of the highlights was using his tree tools to extract sugar cane juice to make us lemonade. I´ve never had anything so good in my life!

I was awed by listening to his story and seeing the farm. It also made me think of how little I know about some of the hardships that farmers and other people have in my own town that I have no idea about.

I was feeling good about the Lodge and mentioned to Ken, one of the managers, that I was thinking of sticking around a couple weeks. Later, the owner pulled me a side and told me normally they require two weeks but they needed help in the bar if I could start right away. Wow, I now have a job!!! I stock, bartend and post tabs nightly. When I say bar, we have a mini fridge and 3 different kinds of alcohol. Everynight, after everyone has had time to play with the Kinkaju (honey bear) Rocky, I ring the bell to start happy hour and we close when people are done. Definately not something I planned on doing but it feels good to contribute and have a purpose, at least for a while. In return, i get to stay for free. It is a good feeling but wierd at the same time.

Hate to cut it short but i´m here with my 2 English girl and irish volunteer friends in town to get some groceries and get some internet time. Pics are up from Boca Brava and the coffee farm. Oh yeah, was sitting on the perch looking at the clouds over the mountains and saw a monkey!

Miss you guys!

Posted by DondeNathan 10:37 Archived in Panama Tagged and job el lost coffee working found bartender organic loco cuni Comments (2)

Being Who I Am, Acting How I Feel

Leaving Boquete, Island Life, and annoying peiople

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Woke up Sunday feeling rested and was thankfully able to move, knees a little soar but mobile. Cooked up my last free pancakes at Mamallena and headed to the grocery store. My next stop was an island with one hotel so I decided to take some food to save money.

Jumped a bus back to David where I would connect to Boca Brava but needed to run a couple errands when I got there. Had the cab driver stop at la mercado (market) so I could get a few more food items and was happy when I found some Febreeze! In general, but especially by the oceans, stuff tends to get a little funky and there's not always laundry service so I think I made a wise choice!

He dropped me off at the bus station and told me my bus would be two hours but I read you could get on any bus that went down the Pan American and they would drop you off at corner. Sounded a little sketchy but oh well. Found one within a couple minutes and was a little freaked out when he jumped on top of the small bus and requested my bags as they didn't have room inside. I usually keep my small backpack as it has my passport and credit card but there was no room for that either so I had to trust the thin piece of rope and his knot skills that I would not donate my belongings to the highway.

Got off the bus ok and was happy to see a cab already there. Took it to the water, where my water taxi took me on a short ride to the island of Boca Brava. There were about 75 stairs just about straight up to get to the hotel that looked daunting but after Baru, I could do anything. Checked into my delux hammock for $7 a night, where I was surprisingly the only person there out of 7 hammocks. Grabbed a beer and some dinner and was happy to see that the prices were very reasonable, as I expected to pay double for everything.

The next day I set out to get some beach action. I took a good walk through jungle, making sure nothing ate me. It was weird as it was pretty thick on both sides but you could hear the ocean. I didn't find the beach I was looking for so I settled for another beach that I ended up having all to myself. I was very surprised that the water was so warm. I sat on some rocks for what seemed like forever, just looking at the other islands, and the horizon, trying to take it all in. It is still pretty amazing to me that I'm actually here. Months ago, I would have never guessed I'd be sitting on Nathan's beach, surrounded by beauty, with the water on my feet. Although I'm on a journey, I'm finding that being able to appreciate the moment, lets me accomplish what I came here for each day, and am lucky enough to wake up the next day and do it again.

The night before, at dinner, I found myself annoyed at some American couples that were having dinner. They were carrying on about the things their friends had, the wine cellars they were building, not knowing the language, etc. Why was it all about money for them? Couldn't they talk about their passion in life or how they gave back??

The next evening, I found myself again annoyed by a goup of locals whom seemed to be here on vacation and were loudly carrying on. The kids were running around, the adults where loud and obnoxious and I wondered if they had any manners. But then I asked myself 'What's wrong with being excited? Withtalking about the things you like to do or having dinner with friends?' On this journey, I am trying to feel what I feel and do whatever moves me so why does it have to should I have to think twice about how others may think or react. Isn't that why I came here. We live in a society of many cultural norms, where there are appropriate ways and times to express your feelings. Where having a passionate or loud conversation at a restaurant would bring the manager to quiet you down. As long as other people are safe, what is wrong with acting on your feelings, immediately?? Something I need to work on.

Late in the evening, I finally got a roommate. Vin from california showed up and we chatted a bit while watching the awesome thunderstorm over the islands. The next day we rented some kayaks and spent a couple hours touring the other islands.

He told me about a place to check out, the Lost and Found Eco Hostel (www.lostandfoundlodge.com) so I'm headed there for three days. No internet so I'll talk to you in a few days.

I got my first donation yesterday and it made my day! The blog views, comments, emails and donations keep my mind fresh and feet going so thank you all so much!!

Posted by DondeNathan 07:21 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Alive in Boca Brava

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Not doing a full post, just thought I'd let you know I'm alive and well on the island of Boca Brava. They charge for internet (stealing it now), but enjoying not being connected. Sleeping in a hammock with an ocean view, food is good, looking to do some snorkling or kayaking today. Bye

Posted by DondeNathan 07:45 Archived in Panama Tagged boca brava Comments (0)

Keeping my Eyes in Front of Me, Not Ahead *pics up

Conquering Baru first by mind, then by foot

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Couldn't find a coffee tour still so took another stroll around town to see what I could see and take some pics. There are so many cool little things to see in this small town of 5000 that I could walk around for days! Took a left when I felt like it and went down any road that looked inviting. Was a little hungry so grabbed some pizza and a fresh lemonade, first pizza I've had since I got here and it was great. Took half home to cover dinner and headed back to the hostel.

Grabbed a quick nap and woke to hear a soccer game on. Didn't know what was on but decided to head down to a local pool hall to get a game and try to catch the action. No pool was going on but there were a bunch of domino games on and money was on the line. Walked in farther to find the bar and found not only that, but also some slot machine action, funny as it only said 'Pool' out front. There were a bunch of locals watching the game, Panama v. Australia world cup qualifier, so I took seat like I belonged there. It worked as I didn't get any glances or stares. Had a couple Balboas (beer here) for. 75 each and watched the rest of the game.

Another BBQ was going to start so I chatted up a Swiss couple as I ate my pizza before the festivities began. I headed in to upload some pics (check em out) and back them up, which turned out to take a while. Headed out back around 11 to see how the party was going. Found a seat next to a funny looking kid with long hair, a wicked mustache, and an old, worn-out Miami Dolphins cap. We started chatting about something before being interrupted by his friend. Didn't catch what they were talking about but when they were done he asked me if I wanted to hike the Baru Volcano with them. "When?" "Now." I took about 10 seconds to think of a reason not to and couldn't find one. "I'm in!"

We had ten minutes to get ready and three of us were on our way to the base in the hostel-bus. It was when the guide stopped where the concrete road stopped when he told us to stay to the left, it should take 4.5-6 hours to summit and the last hour was easy that I realized we were on our own! As we reached our first mileage marker, '1km done, 12.5km (about 7miles) to go, I kind of started to figure out what we were in for. With headlamps on, I walked behind Mike from Austin (stach guy) and Kevin from Eugene as they had a conversation in Spanish. I was trying to catch my breathe and keep focused on the ground ahead of my feet as this 'road' wad littered with good sized rocks to provide traction to the ATVs that took this road. As we walked at a good pace I found myself looking ahead at the steep grades but kept myself focused on what was at my feet so I wouldn't fall and and so I wouldn't get overwhelmed by the terrain above. Kevin lives in Costa Rica and is a climber and Mike was an occasional one. We were keeping a good pace as we hit the various mileage markers as I found my groove in front of the pack as they chatted. A few miles in, I started feeling discomfort in the heel of my right foot as the shoes I was wearing weren't completely broken in. We took a few short breaks along the way to admire the city lights and I eventually took the chance to add the wool socks I brought as my feet were still annoying me. I felt at least one blister so doubled up on socks, added a layer or 2 and we were on our way. The weather was decent, as my friends were still wearing shorts a T's, and abnormally clear.
As we went on, the other foot started hurting a bit and my knee started to ache a bit. 6km down, 7.5 to go, it was about 2am at this point. Just kept my head down and stayed focused on taking my next step, instead of worrying about how I was going to hike another 5 miles like this. At times,it seemed that we were well ahead of schedule while the next marker made us feel as we were slowing to a crawl. Just one more step I kept telling myself as I still kept to myself.

In my old life, I always found myself working toward these long-term goals or looking forward to what is going next weekend, or after work and I don't take time to focus on what is in front of me. I can say that there is a list, or lists, of goals or things that I want(ed) to accomplish but are left undone as the mountain was to large to climb so I made no progress at all. Also, there were plenty of days that I didn`t accomplish anything as I was focused on what was going on another day. This is not a revelation to me as I was aware of these things at the time but now as I climbed this volcano, I did something about it.

We took breaks and slowed down as we felt we were getting closer as they told us not to summit too early as it was cold. As we trekked on, Kevin and I switched off in the lead and the distance between us got a little longer. I intentionally tried to get some space so I could stay focused while taking it all in. At one point they stopped and I pressed ahead. Kevin caught up and said Mike was feeling a little woozy so they ate. I had only eaten that pizza around 8 and only had a pocket full of Starburst jelly beans, that i had been snacking on, and a little bit of trail mix but I was feeling fine, one step at a time. We kept an eye on Mike in the back as we pushed forward.

It was about 500 or so when Mike said he needed ten minutes to rest but we should move forward, and we did. I kept trying to figure out our pace and where we were as we were on a mission to find this last 'easy hour' we were told of. That was actually key as we found some straight aways but never anything that didn't lead to a steep incline, but Kevin and I pressed on seeking it. As the light post at the top of the mountain seemed to get closer, the inclines seemed to get steeper and we felt like we would never get there. We were treated to some amazing views of the stars that I couldn't even begin to capture on a camera, mainly because I was so awestruck! The feeling I had is unexplainable as we just gazed, seeing so many stars and even the Milky Way!

After hitting about 3 or 4 'home stretches' I got my first glimpse of the Caribbean and took a deep breath. Wow, I feel so ALIVE! The overwhelming feeling lasted a few seconds as I looked up and we had more to climb. Kevin was fading a bit but I kept my feet moving and made the final push to the top point. So Baru is the highest point of Panama and one of the only places where you can see the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean at the same point, oh and also the Volcano. We reached the top before sunrise, around 6am, and I was more relieved at this point to be able to sit for a minute. Kevin went to look for a better vantage point as I sad on the dirt, not sure what to feel. I was so drained from the hike and underwhelmed that I was numb.

After about 15 minutes when you could start to see the red and yellow of the sun coming up over the clouds on the Sea, I got the energy to look for Kevin. I walked up a bit and found him and 2 other guys who had reached the summit before us. We still hadn't seen Mike and wondered if he would make it up, as he was a good amount behind at this point. I made my way to the highpoint they were on and was still in a bit of a funk. The sun started making it's way up as they 2 other guys were getting giddy, laughing and talking. I was quite annoyed as I almost told them to give me a couple minutes but I decided not to take their thunder.

I found a seat and started to feel the warm rays of the sun as it peeked out over the clouds on the horizon. The warmth was so refreshing as I started to be overcome by a large range of emotions. The feeling of accomplishment, aches, exhaustion, feeling of being close to those I've lost took over and I felt like I needed to cry, but only a few tears came as I couldn't figure out how to feel what I was feeling. I sat there for a while, with my head in my hands as I tried to process what was going on, all while the sun continued to warm me up and stir these emotions. The only thing I could pin down was that I wish I could have shared that moment with some of you as words do not do it justice. Not much more to say as it was something I've never felt and still not sure what to think about it.

I finally felt like taking some pics as the sun was starting to come over the peak of Baru and show the Pacific. Being able to make a circle and see what seemed like the entire countryside of Panama, the sun over the Caribbean, then the sun hitting the Pacific was something you will have to experience for yourself.

We got our pics and started to the trail head, when a familiar face started walking up the hill. Mike mustered the courage to keep plugging on and made it! He told us to go on without him but I found another seat in the dirt as we let him have his moment. We started making our way down around 8 and I found myself a little awed by the terrain we just conquered as we could now actually see the roads we traversed. The way down was as hard as the way up as the foot was hard to get and we slipped all over. Both my knees and feet were killing me but the thought of getting to the bottom kept us going. It seemed like forever getting down but we all began to tell jokes and learn more about each other as we now had accomplished something together. I opened up to them a bit about myself and my journey as we listened to some Ray Charles on my phone. It took us a little over 3 hours to get down but it seemed like forever. We jumped a cab at the ranger station and got back to the hostel.

My legs felt horrible after letting them rest but I grabbed some food and some pain cream and took a decent nap. Woke up, not being able to move my legs from the knee pain. My dormmates came back and I took the opportunity to get some sympathy and Advil. After they left the room I decided to suck it up as I had accomplished something awesome and needed to revel in that, as opposed to the pain.

I was supposed to leave today to the Pacific Coast but i'll see how I feel in the morning and hopefully head out. Need some beach relaxation!

Until next time mis amigos...keep your feet moving and you will always get where you are trying to go!

Posted by DondeNathan 18:00 Archived in Panama Tagged sea ocean caribbean to wow pacific pain baru accomplishment unexplainable Comments (7)

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